Trust the PRocess – Part One – Growth Marketing
B2b Marketing Director, Vanessa Ashworth takes us on a two-part blog journey on why marketers should trust the process of PR, explaining why those in the industry should know better than to try to use the specialism to create short-term, direct sales results.
How B2B marketing leaders should measure PR
In a digital world of direct response, the pressure to prove the ROI of every marketing pound, dollar or euro is felt by every senior marketer in the field.
But it’s time to push back. It’s time to insist that traditional or growth marketing (generating demand by building the brand and nurturing prospects) is more effective and profitable in the medium and long term than the performance metrics of generating quick, low-quality leads.
PR is a growth marketing tool and rarely can its output be measured in direct sales. If you’re judging a fish by its ability to climb a tree, you’re barking up the wrong tree.
The value of telling stories
I completely believe in the value of PR.
As the leader of a busy marketing team of 13 in a global B2B engineering company; as a fractional CMO running my own business; as a marketing leader in a B2B software SME; in all my guises, I’ve never doubted the power of telling stories. I believe that these stories are our most powerful marketing resource.
There, I said it: “our most powerful marketing resource”.
It’s by telling stories that your ideal clients will get to learn what you do, why you do it, how you do it, and what value it will bring to them. It’s only through telling stories that your ideal clients will get to know you, like you and trust you (qualifying themselves), and then give you their limited resources to pay you to do it for them.
In a busy marketing department, you’re stretched and pulled in lots of different directions, and many of the tasks will have deadlines: product launches, events, sales proposals, bids, campaigns…
Deadlines create priorities, and the writing of stories without deadlines falls off the plan. This is one reason (of many) to bring in a PR agency. Outsourcing the writing of stories and creating deadlines ensures the stories get told.
My number one method of measuring PR is measuring the output.
Defining the output
The output you require is based on your campaign plan. When you appoint an agency, the first job is to define the objective(s), create a strategy, and then put it into a plan with set deliverables and deadlines. We’ll not go into the preparation phase here but it’s important to note that perfect preparation prevents poor performance. So, don’t make the mistake of cutting out the personas, positioning, and value proposition pieces.
Output is the simplest form of PR measurement. It’s also the measurement that stands up in a boardroom: “We’re paying the agency for 6 pieces a month. We’re receiving 6 pieces a month.” It’s wholly tangible and very simple. Tick. Everyone’s happy.
Growth marketing that combines Social and PR
Let’s assume a really simple campaign plan: your objective is to increase sales, and one strategy is to build your brand to your target audience through LinkedIn.
On a social channel, to build a following and a community, we follow the concept of like me, know me, trust me.
Liking someone/something comes when you see them more often. It’s called the ‘mere exposure effect’. Therefore, your brand needs to be VISIBLE consistently where your prospects and customers are. You can measure like me success by the number of pieces in that space, number of impressions, and use of strong imagery to support the messaging.
Knowledge comes with messages that resonate. Knowledge comes with the different kinds of stories, digging deeper, going behind the scenes. Ideally, you want your followers to feel an emotional connection to you/your brand. This is achieved when the prospect believes that a brand knows and understands them — when it understands their pains, and this is amplified even more when they react to your messaging or imagery with emotion (happiness, joy, relief, safety, laughter, etc.).
Know me success can be measured by asking yourself if each piece of communication meets the pre-agreed key messages; if there is enough story variety (thought leadership/case studies/employee interviews, etc.) for prospects to get to know you; if service or product posts are peppered among people posts; and if emotional imagery is used.
Trust is the outcome of like + know. Trust comes with consistency. Trust leads to demand. This is the outcome you desire.
Therefore, if you created a strategic plan, prepared properly, and are delivering the outputs defined, you will, over time, build trust and generate demand. This is growth marketing.
Keep your eyes peeled for Part 2 where I will be considering the next step — measuring outcomes.
At EC-PR we are passionate about B2B communication. If you are serious about building your brand reputation through successful media relations, get in touch with our PR experts today.